Signposting - Special educational needs - New EHCP Decision Making Processes in Wiltshire


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Section: Signposting

Subsection: Signposting - Special educational needs

New EHCP Decision Making Processes in Wiltshire

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Following coproduction sessions with parent carers in partnership with the WPCC, the SEND Service has been reviewing the processes in place in Wiltshire to request an EHC Needs Assessment. They have also been reviewing and redesigning the processes in place to make decisions about EHCPs.

What is changing?
New digital forms and paperwork for requesting an EHC needs assessment are being produced, not just for schools and settings but in response to what parent carers told us, new easier to use forms for parent carers and young people.

Again, in response to coproduction sessions, the SEND Service is changing how it considers requests for an EHCP and will be moving from one decision-making ‘panel’, to a series of ‘Discussion and Decision Groups’ to make decisions to do with EHC Needs Assessments and EHC Plans.

The information and guidance on the Wiltshire SEND Local Offer about these processes is also being updated.

How have families been involved?
This work has been developed in partnership with the WPCC and others who use the service, including schools and settings, parent carers, and others who support families in the process.

As part of the work, we held an interactive webinar in April to share the plans, to listen to your comments and hear your ideas on how we can improve the processes. We also produced a survey as part of the webinar and shared this afterwards on the WPCC website for those who couldn’t attend or wanted to contribute further.

Wiltshire Council has been working with a parent carer focus group, in partnership with Wiltshire SENDIASS, to create a new online form for parent carers to use when requesting an EHC Needs Assessment.

Wiltshire Council is also in the early stages of working with the WPCC to develop a parent moderation role, so that parent carers can play an important role in how we can quality-assure the decision-making processes in place. We will be telling you more about this in future newsletters.

How have you involved schools and settings in the work?
We held meetings with key representatives from settings, to hear their experiences of the current processes. We also ran a SENCO Task and Finish Group, with representation from across the region, to help design the new request forms. The new request form is digital and will be submitted online, via a secure portal.

What about the parent carer requests for an EHC needs assessment (EHCNA)?
Our new Local Offer website information will be published soon, explaining the EHC Needs Assessment request process. It is best practice for the parent carer to talk with the education setting first, if they want to request an EHCNA. We recognise that sometimes it is not possible for a parent carer to speak to an education setting for a number of reasons when considering requesting an EHCNA. There will be new information for parents and carers making the process clearer, and a simple electronic parent request form, should they decide to make the request themselves. Also, information on who can help parent carers complete the form.

What are ‘Discussion and Decision Groups’ (DaDs)?
We have decided to change from having one ‘SEN panel’ to a series of ‘Discussion and Decision Groups’ (DaD Groups). This will not only make things clearer regarding what the groups are about, but also, we can ensure that each group can focus on a smaller number of cases relevant to the type of decision being made. There will also be focused representation from appropriate professionals and services and a moderation process that will include trained parent moderators. We are in the process of producing a leaflet for parents that will explain more about the DaD groups and we will also have this information on the SEND Local Offer webpages.

When are the changes happening and when will I know more?

We are currently trialling the new e-forms and decision processes that have been redesigned and there will be a gradual introduction of the changes over the next few months.

It has been incredibly helpful having parent carers working alongside us in developing these new processes. Hearing experiences both good and bad has helped us ensure that we hold onto the good and make the right changes where they need to happen.

We will be keeping you informed and there will be the chance to see the new forms and hear about the processes at live events happening later this year. Thank you to everyone who has helped us review and re-design this work and for your patience while we make these changes.